Sunday, 25 June 2017

Sabbatical Selection

Phew It's a Scorcher!
Much mirth made it onto the very news-greedy media last week when some jolly lads at a school in Exeter were forbidden to turn up in shorts.
The story would have passed fbb by, and indeed did so until Sheffield correspondent Roy forwarded something similar.
The note Roy does not say what the "crew" were crewing, but Nantes does have some stunning trams.

John's Jolly Journey
Dorset correspondent John has been kind enough to help fbb interpret the developing story of the collapse of Damorey, indeed the near collapse of rural bus services in the county. But yesterday he was in Oxford. He writes thus:-
I am at a IHE AGM and conference (highways professional body).

Yesterday on my way up I decided to do something different in travelling from Bournemouth to Oxford - normally a two hour train journey in a very hot supposed air conditioned Voyager between the two stations.  Due to issues around Winchester with the power supply and broken down freight trains this service was being diverted via Romsey and the Salisbury bypass line.

So I caught GoAhead's "more" X3 from Lansdowne at 09.41 (ex Bournemouth Square at 09.35) ...
... with armchair seats and tables upstairs; arriving Salisbury at 11.00 on time.

Walked around Salisbury for 20 minutes then caught the Salisbury Reds X5 (also GoAhead) to Swindon ...
... with a crew change at Pewsey.
GoAhead have a depot here on the A345 at Salisbury Road Industrial Estate. Reds also operate the local buses around Marlborough. Tourist Coaches (also GoAhead) run local service 217 to Rogers Meadow.
The X5 was due at Swindon at 13.18 but arrived late with good loading from Marlborough area onwards.
On approaching Swindon bus station I saw my Stagecoach Gold 66 on stand due to leave at 13.25 (they run every 20 minutes between Swindon and Oxford) went down stairs and was first off and the 66 was next but one stand away. 
The driver was just getting ready to close the doors, and said "have you a bus pass" and waved me on.  Downstairs was full but upstairs was virtually empty.

I had worked out the bus routes to the Oxford Spires Hotel on Abingdon Road ...
... but the bus maps DID NOT. Show that Queens Street was closed for building work.
Queen Street Closure (21st May 2017 - further notice)

Queen Street in Oxford City Centre will once again be closed from Monday 22nd May 2017 until further notice. This will mean that several of our services will be affected, with necessary adjustments to timetables being made from Sunday 21st May 2017. Some of our current stopping arrangements will also need to change from that date.

city X3/X13:

Unfortunately, with no access to Queen Street, our city X3 and city 13 will be unable to serve Oxford Rail Station in order to maintain the high frequency of the service. As such, city X3 buses will replace the city 13 services and operate direct to John Radcliffe Hospital via Headley Way, while city X13 will run via Northway (see timetable for details).

Passengers wishing to travel from Abingdon to the Rail Station are advised to hop off at St Aldates Police Station ...
... and change onto our city 5, which operates from Speedwell Street stop S1 (a short walk away). Your ticket to the Rail Station will be accepted on the city 5 service. 

Sadly, John did not find this information; and even if he had, it helpfully explains what passengers from Abingdon must do, but fails to guide those arriving at Oxford Station. As is so often the case, public transport information is designed for those who know what they are doing and where they are going. The poor ignorant passenger from the wilds of Dorset has to struggle!

Once I saw the X3 and X32 buses going to/from Abingdon I knew I was nearly there.
Return today after 16.00 hours is by train as otherwise X3's from Salisbury terminate at Ringwood leaving a two hour wait in Ringwood for the last bus to Bournemouth.

Who Pays When It's Free?
This is Carwyn Jones
A while ago, he stunned the Welsh bus industry with a shock announcement.

Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales, has announced free weekend travel on TrawsCymru bus services, funded by the Welsh Government. The bus industry was not consulted before the announcement.

At the Welsh Labour Conference in Llandudno, Jones announced three measures which, he said, would make a tangible difference to passengers on Welsh public transport. Two relate to Wi-Fi for rail users.
Jones continued: “And to strengthen bus services, I am today announcing a 12-month pilot of free weekend travel on our long-distance TrawsCymru service to encourage more people to travel on the network.”

What he didn't announce was how the bus companies would be compensated and who would provide extra duplicates to deal with the extra passengers. Recent press comments reveal that nothing further has been arranged.
The piece goes on to warn that nothing specific has been arranged. The start of the scheme is expected "in July"!

A Tearful Farewell to fbb?
From a good friend? From a secret lady admirer? From a senior First Bus manager? Who could possibly be so sad if they did not converse with fbb ever again? (Many have suggested that they would be glad to be spared such a conversation!!)

No. It is Megabus.
Here's what Megabus says:-


We know that you’ve registered your details with us in the last 18 months, but because of changes to data protection**, we need you to confirm that you’re happy to carry on receiving communications from us.

It’s no biggie, you simply need to click the button below and let us know that you’re still up for receiving the latest news, information and special offers from the megabus team.

As a little thank you, everyone who re-confirms their details will be put into our prize draw which could see you and a friend head off on a trip to the big smoke and bag a cool tech bundle. Hit the button below to get involved.

Factually, fbb has not registered his details with Megabus recently. In fact his one such journey was so long ago that he cannot remember when it was. The old man did a round trip in pre-blogging days as follows:-

Portsmouth to Brighton service 700 (OAP pass)
Brighton to London Megabus (£1.50)
London to Portsmouth National Express (£1)

It was soon after Megabus started running to Brighton, so 2005 or maybe 2006.

fbb did not "hit the button".

** What changes?

 Next Brackmills blog : Monday 26th June 


  1. Just to clarify, the X32 does NOT run via Abingdon, the Go Ahead routes running to Abingdon from Oxford are X2, X3, X13 and 35. Perhaps a typo, as the X32 actually avoids Abingdon running straight to Didcot. Confusingly the old X1, a route similar to both the X2 and X32 which has now had the Abingdon-Oxford section cut and has been renumbered 32A. Perhaps a slip of the fingers?

    1. For to read towards! They both travel along Abingdon Road in Oxford

  2. Andrew Kleissner25 June 2017 at 13:35

    Nothing yet on the Trawscymru website (or Facebook/Twitter). However what you may not know is that - quite apart from Concessionary passes being available at all times - the Welsh Government already allows free or reduced TRAIN travel for concessionary pass holders on some lines where bus services are few and far between. I don't know how the funding works! This has been going on for at least two years:

  3. "** What changes?"

    I presume this is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect across the EU in May 2018.

    It goes much further than the existing Data Protection Act and, among many other provisions, will provide many more rights for individuals about their data - including a requirement to obtain consent from individuals to use data about them.

    It looks like Stagecoach is ahead of the curve on GDPR. We can all expect many similar requests from organisations we do business with over the next few months.